Is your heart skipping a beat…or two?

By Robin Crane, MBA
Customer Development Advisor, Sentara Healthcare

You could probably list all the things you’re supposed to be doing to keep your heart healthy.  I just got a reminder this morning on my cell phone from my insurance company (who actually has a stake in how well I take care of my heart).  It might as well have just  said, “blah, blah, blah” because, yes,  I know, control my cholesterol, eat better, watch my blood pressure, stay a healthy weight, exercise…

But here’s a Heart Healthy fact that you might not know:   If you’re in Hampton Roads, you’re close to a dedicated heart hospital and some medical breakthroughs in heart care that can make a difference.  Really! 

Sentara Heart cardiothoracic surgeons and cardiologists were the first in the world to begin performing surgeries in the dual Epicardial Endocardial Persistent Atrial Fibrillation (AF) Study (Staged DEEP) feasibility trial.
Sentara Heart cardiothoracic surgeons and cardiologists were the first in the world to begin performing surgeries in the dual Epicardial Endocardial Persistent Atrial Fibrillation (AF) Study (Staged DEEP) feasibility trial.

Especially if you are one of the 2 million people in our country that  have Atrial Fibrillation (AF)… but I like to call it A-Fib, the most common type of irregular heartbeat.  There are lots of treatments out there, but sometimes the A-Fib just persists.  A new Staged DEEP trial (it’s FDA approved) at  Sentara Heart Hospital in Norfolk is aimed at resolving that persistent type of A-Fib.

Without being too technical, here’s what’s in it for you.   You get two cardiac experts, a cardiac surgeon and a medical cardiologist who take a tag team approach to correcting your A-Fib that hasn’t been returned to a normal beating pattern with other treatments.

The cardiac surgeon goes first and working through tiny incisions (surgical cardiac ablation) in the chest to create surgical lines on the outside of the heart.  Basically, the surgeon is setting up directional road blocks for the heart’s rebellious electrical impulses that are “veering off the path” and causing irregular heartbeat.

TAG.  Now it’s the cardiac electrophysiologist’s turn.  This physician specializes in the electrical impulses (beats) of the heart.    Through a procedure called medical cardiac ablation (*, additional paths are made within the heart.  They use tiny little catheters to get this done.  Then it’s tested to see if the heart beats (impulses) are staying on the right path.  The goal of course is to return the heartbeat to a normal rhythm.

This all happens during a short hospital stay at Sentara Heart Hospital – one of only five leading AF Centers of Excellence participating in this trial.

So, during February’s American Heart Month, I hope you have taken advantage of some of the many ways you can learn how to keep your heart healthy.

But when you do need heart care, know that innovative and cutting edge heart treatments are happening every day in your community.  And, that’s good for your heart!


About the Author

Robin Crane has been researching and writing about medical breakthroughs and innovations at Sentara for a really long time. Blogging is the perfect venue to break down the complex medical jargon just enough to  understand  and then appreciate the miraculous medical wonders right here in our community.  Outside of being a Customer Development Advisor with Sentara, she finds great joy with my family on our farm,  where they are outnumbered (and overworked) by the animals that live with them.


I’ve worked in Corporate Communications at Sentara Healthcare for the past 25 years. I am the editor of the Sentara Today blog, working behind the scenes to capture inspiring stories about our employees and patients. Currently, I am also working on Sentara Nurse, a new blog we just launched. I’ve had the opportunity to be closely involved in helping preserve our organization’s historical archives. In my spare time, when I am not blogging, I enjoy spending time with my husband and three children, reading, cooking, and practicing yoga as often as I can.

3 thoughts on “Is your heart skipping a beat…or two?

  1. Most informative as I need to keep up on new proceedures, & this is a very good article for me to keep the public informed . Good work, Robin.

  2. Great article to keep me informed as I am retired, but definitely try to keep refreshing my information. Good work Robin

  3. Hi Robin, I am delighted to see how far you have gone and what great things you are doing. You may not remember me, but I used to live behind when we lived in Beaconsdale. God Bless you and keep up the good work.

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